This weekend Aquarius, Arrival and Loving all open in a theater near you. All three of these films share a story impacted by the power of love and they also all may be award season gems. Click through for my reviews of the films and what elements in them deserve recognition.
Actress Sonia Braga's career defining role of Clara in Aquarius is easily one of the best performances of 2016. Writer/Director Kleber Mendonca Filho's take on one woman's battle with a powerful residential company looks much deeper into the elements of sexism, ageism, and racism that still impact our world. The film doesn't shy away from the growing wealth division, but also gives us a wonderful glimpse into the loved ones that surround our leading lady. The fact that the film is called Aquarius, the name of the apartment complex, and not Clara our female lead harps to Filho's bigger picture view for his movie. The length of the film and the subtitles may scare you away, but take the leap into the fascinating life of Clara. Sonia Braga's talents are on full display and her performance should be a lightening rod for this film. As her performance garners more attention I hope the film will catch on. The elements in the film may be set in Recife, Brazil but are universally shared. Beautiful cinematography and editing help highlight the seaside beauty of Recife and gives the film a true timeless feel. A film that pushes the boundaries and makes you want to see change but allows for reality to finally take over.
Knowledge is only important if you have the ability to communicate it. Director Denis Villenueve's latest film is his most ambitious and once again showcases his bold nature in his film choices. The plot of Arrival is simple in it is about Aliens arriving on earth, but the emotional content of this film is much more profound. Amy Adam's Dr. Louise Banks is not merely an intelligent women who is tasked with communicating to our encounter with aliens, but she is a fleshed out character who's arch is a tremendous thing to watch. The loss and finding of love seen through the Banks' character is one of the more powerful shown on film in 2016. The inner depression and sorrow of our lead character is fully tapped into in this sci-fi thriller. Villenueve's take on Ted Chiang's award winning short story, "The Story of Your Life", is a respectful and visually stunning realization of Chiang's powerful ideas. Cinematographer Bradford Young's incredibly subtle perspective of our world seen through Arrival should be the real "find" from this film. Young has quickly established himself as one of the best DPs around and Arrival hopefully garners him the full recognition. The final element of the film is the wonderful musical score behind the film. In particular the emotional tone set by Max Richter's fine work. The film will completely immerse you into the tremendous rollercoaster of emotion that the film takes you on and then closes with the a poetic and profound take on what you've seen. To mix Young's cinematography, Richter's score and the acting of Adams, Forest Whitaker & Jeremy Renner is pure genius by Denis Villenueve. See this film and be impacted.
Jeff Nichols 5th feature film is one of the year's most important movies. The Loving's case and story is a recent reality that should haunt us, but seems almost unknown. Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton capture the innocence of love at it's most pure form, but the color of their skin tone highlights the harsh hatred that lingers in our recent past. More than a love story or a legal drama Nichols' delicate and subtle approach to the film allows for a more thoughtful understanding of why the Loving case is so important. It's more than just interracial love, it looks at the powers and structure of religion and government that look to confine and separate. These sentiments are fully echoed in the recent battle for same-sex marriage. The importance of the film is more than a look into the issues with religion mixing with our legal system but rather a look at the hatred that continues to linger in our daily lives. In the end, Nichols and his team give us a way to remember the Lovings for their profound Love.
What would you do for love? Would you fight powerful companies, governments or even aliens to have love?
“Love is the voice under all silences, the hope which has no opposite in fear; the strength so strong mere force is feebleness:
the truth more first than sun, more last than star”